- The Washington Times - Friday, December 26, 2008

Lost decade

“Mr. Obama’s troops palpitate with excitement at the prospect of $1 trillion in ‘stimulus,’ though any net benefit to the economy likely will be incidental,” Wall Street Journal business columnist Holman W. Jenkins Jr. writes.

“Al Gore has thrown out the window any unpopular carbon taxes in favor of direct subsidies to his green energy investments. He sees the moment for what it is — alarm about global warming has degenerated into a pretext. Billions will be diverted from useful purposes to create ‘green jobs’ that deliver no meaningful impact on climate or the accumulation of atmospheric carbon,” Mr. Jenkins said.

“Large ‘confidence’ costs were always destined to flow from the extreme steps being taken, even if advisable, to prop up the economy. The federal government’s alternating takeovers and bailouts of companies are inherently destabilizing and create massive uncertainty in investors and businesses.

“The Fed’s shocking steps to print money and acquire every kind of private asset and, soon perhaps, washing machines and Chevy Tahoes, may in retrospect be seen as just the right medicine. At the moment, no rational investor or business manager looks upon such doings with confidence in our economic future. …

“Our point here is that the bad policy vicious circle probably has a long way to run. While it’s still possible to entertain wild hopes about an Obama administration, such hopes are partly self-liquidating on closer inspection — they exist in the first place only because Mr. Obama has given us so little to go on, except campaign boilerplate.

“Bottom line: Politics is in charge — in a way that makes a lost decade of subpar prosperity more likely than not.”

Media thriller

“Sean Hannity marks 2008 as the year journalism died. But it could just as easily be the year journalism felt a thrill going up its leg,” the Media Research Center’s L. Brent Bozell III writes at www.mrc.org.

“That Chris Matthews announcement in February, that a Barack Obama speech caused him a mild ecstasy, represented the everyday ‘mainstream’ media view. Reporters didn’t so much produce ‘news’ during this election year as they tried to make a sale. Every story seemed to say ‘You know you want Obama.’

“Chris Matthews won the ‘Quote of the Year’ for 2008 in the Media Research Center’s annual tally of the year’s worst reporting, or ‘The Best of Notable Quotables.’ The only quote that came close to Matthews in summing up the year in liberal tilt was this bizarre post-election headline from the Reuters wire service: ‘Media bias largely unseen in U.S. presidential race.’

‘The ‘Obamagasm Award’ went to Nancy Gibbs, Time’s senior writer in charge of obsequious fawning, for using her post-election cover story to compare Obama to Jesus Christ, only better: ‘Some princes are born in palaces. Some are born in mangers. But a few are born in the imagination, out of scraps of history and hope.’ …

“Even anchormen couldn’t resist the urge to ‘save the country’ by selling Obama. NBC’s Brian Williams won the ‘Let Us Fluff Your Pillow Award’ for soft and cuddly interviews for trying to help Michelle Obama identify the worst Republican lie about her husband: ‘What of the attacks has busted through to you? What makes you angriest at John McCain, the Republicans? What’s being said about your husband that you want to shout from the mountain tops is not true?’

“Do you remember Cindy McCain being asked claptrap like that?”

Power of cash

“Conventional wisdom dictates that Barack Obama was swept into office on the winds of change. History books will surely echo that notion. But while those are sentimentally satisfying explanations for what took place this past November, Obama owes his presidency largely to cold hard cash,” Steven Stark writes in the Boston Phoenix.

“Though the American dollar is now taking a horrific beating in these financial End Times, it’s still strong enough to put a man in the Oval Office. In the end, Obama’s victory was notable in a number of ways, most obviously because of his race. But in political terms, it was about as conventional as they come,” Mr. Stark said.

“That’s an important distinction, because it tells us a lot about our likely political future. Remember that, at the beginning of this fall campaign, the press fell all over itself proclaiming the Obama operation as the harbinger of a new, realigned type of post-Internet politics able to mobilize a massive network, mostly of the young, at a moment’s notice. Turnout was predicted to set new records.

“In reality, turnout was up, but not by much, and the young comprised nearly the same percentage of the vote they always have. As for Obama’s decisive victory? It was about what one would expect from any challenger to an incumbent party running in the midst of a recession and the worst economic crisis in a generation.

“Still, the Obama campaign did make political history with an unexpected innovation: it brilliantly used the Internet to convert enthusiasm into money. And that helped make Obama the greatest political fundraiser of all time.

“Essentially, then, he won the presidency the old-fashioned way, using his vast resources to first wipe out Hillary Clinton and then overwhelm John McCain.”

Reform vs. recovery

“Barack Obama wants to use the recession to remake the U.S. economy,” John Stossel writes at www.realclearpolitics.com.

” ‘Painful crisis also provides us with an opportunity to transform our economy to improve the lives of ordinary people,’ Obama said.

“His designated chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is more direct: ‘You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.’

“So they will ‘transform our economy.’ Obama’s nearly trillion-dollar plan will not merely repair bridges, fill potholes and fix up schools; it will also impose a utopian vision based on the belief that an economy is a thing to be planned from above. But this is an arrogant conceit. No one can possibly know enough to redesign something as complex as ‘an economy,’ which really is people engaging in exchanges to achieve their goals. Planning it means planning them,” Mr. Stossel said.

“Obama and Emanuel want us to believe that their blueprint for reform will bring recovery from the recession. Yet we have recovered from past recessions without undertaking a radical social and economic transformation.

“In fact, reform would impede recovery.

“This is not the first time a president chose reform over recovery. Franklin Roosevelt did it with his New Deal, and the result was long years of depression and deprivation.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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